But what I am getting around to is a piece by Ezra Bayda, a Zen teacher whose clear, pragmatic writing I like a lot. In his Buddhadharma commentary called "The False Promise" he talks about how we spend a lot of time, years in fact trying to "be free of the anxious quiver of being". What a great image, "the anxious quiver of being." It can be almost too much to bear sometime.
And I think if we're honest most of us go there, trying to escape the anxious quiver. We embrace and lean into the comfort and try and get the uncomfortable out of the way as quickly as possible. We're hoping through our practice that we'll become less angry, less fearful, less gripped by our emotions, more clear and wise, less greedy. Some look forward to some sort of "enlightenment". We might hope to be calm and tranquil or clear, maybe blissful. We all spend some time with our hopes.
But Bayda points out: "One of the hardest things to understand in practice is that we don't have to fulfill our idealized pictures of how we're supposed to be or what life is supposed to be. All we have to do is experience and work with what our life is right now. It doesn't matter what arises. Nor does it matter how we feel about it. This may be hard to accept, but all that matters is whether we can honestly acknowledge what is going on and then stay with the present-moment reality of the experience."
So if we're attentive we will see ourselves in our little games, wanting, hoping, expecting. We'll see ourselves trying to control our environment or trying always to figure things out. Why did this happen, what does it mean? As our house hit the market on Thursday I could see this. Until now we have just been working away, focused on the many hours of painting, sprucing and tidying that went into preparing the house for sale. What, the closets need to be neat as a pin, all the kitchen cabinets too, and the basement? But underlying all this work is some expectation that this will make the house sell. I even (for shame) snuck into the yard next door and tidied the pile of old barbecues and strollers that sat in clear view of one of our windows. Pragmatic yes? Am I trying to control outcomes? Yes. I did it out of frustration and longing after several friendly chats with the upstairs neighbours produced no tidying results.
But for me where I really get lost is in the "how I feel about it" part. I love working with what arises, that is my passion, seeing where I hope, seeing how I try to control or make sense of the unknowable. But I am easily lost in the "I wish that didn't make me so mad" or "I wish I was more compassionate", or "I shouldn't feel that way."
So Bayda's article really called out to me, reminding me that it's all okay, the passing clouds of the day. Yes I can do my practice and yes it may change me in the long run but it's really about just being here with "the anxious quiver of being"
There is lots of grist for the mill as our house hits the market, as I prepare to do my mother's paper work and settle her affairs. I will even confess to using a feng shui method to help with the sale of the house, (hoping in action??) that Erin from Dragon Horse told me about. It's a fun little tidbit that you want to know, right? She gave me a little red envelope. In it you put some dirt from your garden, something metal from your kitchen and a piece of wood from a baseboard. You throw all this into a fast running river! Have I resorted to magical thinking or am I just working with unseen energies?
So there it is. Our life as the path. Mostly we know this but it is so easy to loose our way. What comes to us is our practice, not our ideas of how practice or life should or shouldn't be. Each little morsel of our experience is as flavourful as the next if we just let the taste rest on our tongue, not preferring the sweet to the bitter.